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Ship breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship breaker (edition 2010)

by Paolo Bacigalupi

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2,3871942,615 (3.87)188
Title:Ship breaker
Authors:Paolo Bacigalupi
Info:New York : Little, Brown, 2010.
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

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    4leschats: Both stories deal with environmental issues and teen survival
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    wifilibrarian: Rootless shares several themes and settings with Ship Breaker. Both stories have teen male protagonists with family issues, and both stories are set in future worlds where the environment has collapsed due to human interference. Both include the setting of a future dystopian/post-apocalyptic New Orleans.… (more)
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» See also 188 mentions

English (192)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All (194)
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Gave up after 50 pages. The characters, setting, and story did not appeal to me.
  DLMorrese | Oct 14, 2016 |
About five years ago I read the author’s The Windup Girl and was blown away by his depiction of a near future dystopian society. I recently followed up with The Water Knife and was not a big fan. After reading this work, I’m about to come to the conclusion that the author is a one-trick pony.

As with The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, action takes place in a near future dystopia, marked by extreme climate change. Coastal areas are flooded, many regions are without water, others suffer through frequent category 6 hurricanes (city killers). All three of the Bacigalupi works could have taken place in different regions of the same ravaged world. And while I found The Windup Girl to be extremely thought provoking and original, both The Water Knife and Ship Breaker read VERY simple and derivative.

I must have missed the reviews that labeled this a YA title, but I can certainly believe it, given its simplicity. Unlike many of the better written YA works, however, this book did not translate well to a more mature audience. In fact, I found it very similar in style to The Water Knife, except for the graphic sexual content contained in the latter.

It is difficult for me to believe that the author who wrote The Windup Girl was responsible for The Water Knife and Ship Breaker. I strongly doubt I will follow up with the second work in this series, The Drowned Cities. ( )
  santhony | Oct 5, 2016 |
In a distant, dystopian future, Nailer works as a ship breaker. He navigates the treacherous confines of beached ships, crawling through the rusted ductwork, searching for anything he can scavenge. It's difficult and dangerous, and Nailer risks his life every day to scrape together a living, if living in a tin shack and teetering on the brink of starvation can be considered a living.

Then Nailer meets a rich girl, and the book turns into a YA novel. *Sigh* I've read 2 of Bacigalupi's novels, The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, and I gave both of them top marks. They were complex, intricate, and offered an astounding amount of depth. Ship Breaker is certainly dumbed down, with a fairly stereotypical plot. Boy and girl meet, boy and girl are from different worlds, boy and girl have to work together, boy and girl kiss around pages 200-250 or so. Y'know, like every YA novel ever.

It's fine though, it's supposed to be a YA novel, and I can't criticize it for being what it is, just because I don't like the YA tropes. As far as YA novels go, it certainly presents a fascinating future, though it isn't explored as much, since the relationship takes center stage most of the time. I liked the underlying theme of trustworthiness and loyalty, though. Even though it's all spelled out for the reader, the author really stresses the importance of trust in the book, which is nicer than the typical teen angst that makes up most YA novels I've read.

Ultimately, I enjoyed Ship Breaker, despite it's predictable and trope-ridden plot. I may even read the next book in the series, which is a testament to Bacigalupi's world building, as that's the only reason I'm interested in reading more. Recommended if you like the genre. ( )
  Ape | Sep 17, 2016 |
A Moral Dilemma I noticed this book won an award a while back so I put it on my TBR but have just now had a chance to read it. I'm glad I finally did though. It's one of those stories that will make you appreciate all the things you have and take for granted on a daily basis. It's set on the Gulf Coast in a post-oil dystopian world which I did not realize until I started reading and I was a little confused at first because the author doesn't give any background upfront on the alternate world and characters. That part is pretty much overlooked until toward the end of the book so it did take me some time to figure out what a lot of the terminology and roles were of the supporting characters.
As for the story itself, it's about a boy named Nailer, who lives in a shanty town on Bright Sands Beach and works on the "light crew" scavenging copper from wrecked oil tankers. The whole beach area where he is from has been devastated by extreme hurricanes and is now poor and rife with crime. Nailer is desperate to get away from that life and his abusive, alcoholic father and is always hoping that his luck will change for the better one day. Then another bad storm occurs and a wealthy clipper ship wrecks on their beach and Nailer is faced with having to decide whether to help the only survivor on the ship or help himself survive by scavenging the ship before anyone else gets there. There is more to the story then that but you'll just have to read the book because I don't want to spoil it.
All in all, it was a good thought-provoking story but I definitely think there should have been more background given on the alternate world and supporting characters. The author does a really good job though of developing the main characters and setting the atmosphere. He paints such vivid descriptions of the struggles and hardships the main characters face which helps you sympathize with the decisions they have to make to survive. If you are ever in need of a reminder of how good we really have it, you should definitely read this one!  ( )
  EmpressReece | Aug 22, 2016 |
SHIP BREAKER was an engaging futuristic science fiction story. The earth has experienced global warming melting the polar ice and drowning the coastal cities. The gulf of Mexico sees frequent super storms. Fossil fuels have been depleted.

The story begins with a boy named Nailer who is part of a light screw scavenging old freighters for any usable bits - copper wire, aluminum. He is part of a crew who works in dangerous conditions without adequate safety precautions to make their quotas. They are mostly hungry and live in sorts of gangs.

Nailer's father is an alcoholic and drug user who is violent most of the time. He takes refuge with friends when he can get away from his father.

One day, when out scavenging, Nailer and a friend discover a wrecked sailing ship and a passenger who is almost dead. The friend suggests that it would be better if the girl were dead but Nailer wants to rescue her. Nita is a Swank. Not only is she rich but she is heir to one of the biggest surviving corporations. However, she is on the run from the part of her family that wants to overthrow her father.

Nailer, a half-man named Tool, and Nita decided to go to Orleans to see if they can find some ships loyal to Nita and her father. They need to jump on a moving train to get there which just starts their adventures.

The story is filled with sailing ships, sea-going battles, treacherous people, and ones that can be trusted though sometimes it is hard to tell the difference. I liked that Nailer got a chance to see what was out there in the bigger world.

The world building was well done and the plot was entertaining. I liked Nailer and liked watching him grow through the book. ( )
  kmartin802 | Jul 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 192 (next | show all)
Bacigalupi is a highly acclaimed adult sci-fi writer, and Ship Breaker won last year's prestigious Printz award for young-adult fiction in the US. It's a taut, disciplined novel, moving with tremendous coiled energy and urgency. I found it a tad colourless in places, but Nailer is a fine hero, complicated and questioning, always wondering whether he's doomed to inherit his father's failings or whether he can make his own destiny.

Which is, of course, the essential question of every dystopia. And basically the essential question of every teenager, too. Why do teenagers like dystopias? Simple. They're looking for proof that there's a way to survive the one in which they're already living.

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paolo Bacigalupiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Caplan, DavidDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Horváth, NorbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swaab, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Nailer clambered through a service duct, tugging at copper wire and yanking it free.
The blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies. (p. 274)
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Book description
Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salt fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.

In America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota — and hopefully live to see another day. But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life — strip the ship for all it's worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life...

In this powerful novel, award-winning author Paolo Bacigalupi delivers a thrilling, fast-paced adventure set in a vivid and raw, uncertain future.


Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being disassembled for parts by a ragtag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father to his hand-to-mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present-day third world.

When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.

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In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.… (more)

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